Many vacation rental owners and property managers face the challenge of getting their listing to stand out from the crowd, since there are more than one million vacation rental listings on both the HomeAway family of websites and Airbnb. Successfully differentiating your property will lead to more inquires, bookings and revenue.
To help you make your listing stand out from the crowd, TurnKey Vacation Rentals put together this guide of the major components of a listing, with tips for making each section as effective as possible.
Headline: Having an effective headline is important because it appears on the search result pages for your property’s area. Headline character limits—the number of letters that your headline can contain—are different on each website.
Here’s what TurnKey has learned from writing and rewriting more than 1,000 headlines for our properties:
- Summarize the experience a guest would have staying in your home.
- Include the home’s location as specifically as possible.
- Highlight any extraordinary amenities (lakefront, oceanfront, pool, views, ski-in/out, etc.).
- Change things up seasonally or around special events. For example, if you’re in a ski town, focus on proximity to the lifts in the winter and hiking trails in the summer.
- Proofread and check for grammatical errors. We use a team of professional writers for our listings.
Photos: Professional quality photos are a must have, so consider paying an experienced photographer to take photos of all aspects of your vacation rental.
TurnKey has had professionals photograph more than 1,000 properties. If you’re going to photograph your property yourself or have a friend help you, here are a couple of important tips:
- Use a wide angle lens to capture as much of the room as possible. Potential guests want to see what kind of space they will be living in.
- Make sure the lighting is appealing and warm. Your home should attract potential guests by making them feel welcome. Natural light is best!
- Include exterior photos of your home. Take photos at “the magic hour” with interior lights on for best results.
- Stage your photos with charming details to catch the eye of potential guests.
Additionally, make sure you explain to potential guests exactly what the photo is depicting, and use these captions to highlight amenities.
Description: Property descriptions are a great way to sell potential guests on the experience your home will offer them as well as highlight key amenities and location details. Here are some tips from the professional writers TurnKey use to craft listings:
- Use the opening sentence as a hook. You need to draw in potential guests from the beginning of the post. Highlight what sets your home apart.
- Be specific. If your place has a special amenity, highlight it! Describe what type of activities are available. Detail what type of travel groups your home would be perfect for and why.
- Make sure your listing is an appropriate length. There’s no need to write a novel, but a lengthy and informative description will capture a potential guest’s attention.
- Break up the text with paragraphs. One long block of text is difficult to read. Use punchy sentences and restrict each paragraph to one topic.
Price: Price is important for a number of reasons. Most potential guests have a budget in mind when they are looking at properties and may not even consider homes that are too far above or below their budget. As a result, your nightly price gets a high degree of visibility on both travel websites’ search results pages and the actual listing. Make sure your vacation rental is priced competitively relative to similar homes in nearby areas.
Reviews: The number of reviews and a home’s overall rating are very important components of a listing. Potential guests will read and evaluate your home based on these reviews. If you have many positive reviews, you will have a higher booking percentage. The best way to acquire positive reviews is to frequently rent your home out through as many websites as possible and provide guests with a great experience.
The vacation rental websites will reach out to renters after their stay and ask them to leave a public review. Over time, you’ll acquire reviews.
Additionally, some owners and management companies have effective and proactive strategies to get even more reviews by emailing guests and asking them to review the stay at their property. This additional outreach can be very effective, and we believe it’s the driving reason for TurnKey acquiring 2 times the number of reviews as the average listing.
Availability Calendar: Once guests determine that your home meets their needs, they want to know if it’s available. Updating your availability calendar and keeping it in as close to real time as possible will help you attract and convert more guests.
Amenity Information: It seems simple, but make sure you list all the amenities that your home offers. Also, if there’s an amenity that your home doesn’t offer that most others do (internet, cable, hairdryer, etc.), consider adding it.
Fast Bookings: Once guests decide to book your property, let them do so as fast as possible! The different websites handle bookings in various ways. On AirBnB, make sure your property accepts instant bookings. On HomeAway, make sure you participate in their “Book Now” product. In addition to giving guests the service they want, the vacation rental sites reward these properties with high placement, which will increase the number of potential guests who see your property and end up booking.
A lot of this advice may seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many listings fall short in one or more of these areas. If you create and actively maintain your listing on all the vacation rentals sites, you’ll be rewarded with exposure to more potential guests and increased bookings and revenue.